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Happy in Our Skin Hardcover – August 25, 2015
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From School Library Journal
PreS—In this picture book for young children, Manushkin celebrates the different aspects of skin. It has many tones, from "cocoa brown," to "peaches and cream," and sometimes distinguishing features like freckles, birthmarks, or dimples. Skin "keeps the outsides out/and your insides in," scabs over wounds, tans in sun, and exhibits goose pimples in cold. While the brief rhyming text is occasionally strained, the large illustrations, executed in ink and pencil and digitally arranged, depict a mixed-race family as they interact with a delightful array of diverse babies, preschoolers, and their parents in their urban neighborhood. Adults kiss baby feet, hold little ones aloft, and snuggle with them. The park and neighborhood scenes include a girl in a wheelchair and Muslim and Orthodox Jewish families enjoying themselves outdoors. Among many humorous touches is a scene in which two youngsters display their paintings while readers see all the paint on the floor and walls and a dog streaking paint as it runs off with a brush. The story comes full circle, beginning with a baby, happy in its "brand-new" skin, and ending with parents and tired children, all "happy in [their] skin," coming home after celebrating with "bouquets of people" at a block party. VERDICT A delightful feel-good story that will be welcome in most collections.—Marianne Saccardi, Children's Literature Consultant, Greenwich, CT
With plenty of sentimental books about belonging available, a fun angle on the ties that bind members of the human family is welcome...Following a light-skinned mother and her three children (who share their father’s brown skin), Tobia (Baby’s Got the Blues) creates an expansive, multicultural cast of urbanites enjoying themselves at a park, at the public pool, and at a boisterous block party. It’s freewheeling fun—a perfect book for the months when we all try to wear as little as possible.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The combination of lovingly humorous and detailed mixed-media illustrations and infectious rhymes will cause little ones and their families to pore over this book again and again.
Happy in Our Skin paints a picture of an ideal world that recognizes the value of diversity and shuns color blindness—a positive message for ears of every age and color.
A delightful feel-good story.
—School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
Happy in Our Skin can create an easy opportunity to have some important conversations about race. This can help parents lay the groundwork for tolerance, acceptance and for the end of racism.
#AAQ Lens:Race matters. “Color blindness” is a misguided strategy for nurturing racial harmony and racial identity. It is essential for transracial adoptive families to have consistent conversation on the topic. Parents must ensure that they are encouraging a reality-based discourse not one that is sanitized because it is easier to pretend race is less of an issue than it is.
Adult adoptees who were adopted into transracial and/or trans-cultural families have raised their voices to proclaim the absolute necessity to tackle issues of race with courage and openness. Happy in Our Skin offers an easy conversation starter. Like many difficult adoption-connected conversations, it is best to begin discussions at a young age. --Gayle H. Swift, "ABC, Adoption & Me:A Multicultural Picture Book"
peaches and cream too--
splendid skin for me,
splendid skin for you!
It's terrific to have skin.
It keeps the outsides out
and your insides in.
What a wonderful world,
Such a hullabaloo--
with all of us in it!
See the splendid view:
bouquets of people,
blooming and boisterous,
brawny and thin,
loving each day,
happy in our skin!
I realize that Fran Manushkin is a much-lauded author with more than fifty children's books to her credit, but this is not her strongest work. I have to wonder--if an unknown author had submitted this to Candlewick Press, would it have been published?